Sword Of The Samurai

Publisher: Microprose
Machine: PC (MS-DOS)

Published in Computer & Video Games #100

Sword Of The Samurai

Microprose's latest simulation/strategy game is set in early feudal Japan, rich pickings for programmers recently. As you'd expect from Microprose, it's reinforced with a glossy 100-page manual details most aspects of Samurai life and tells you how to play the game.

If you don't wish to practise some of the arcade elements first, you take the role of a warrior, align yourself to a clan and enter the game proper at one of four skill levels. Play mostly takes the form of a series of written choices, broken up by action sequences: for example, if you choose the travel option at the start, you enter a map screen, choose a location, access it and face another set of choices.

It's vital that you make correct decisions, as entering combat too soon can end the game quickly. Your ultimate objective is to gain enough land, honour, army strength and other qualities to become the clan daimyo (leader).


Sword Of The Samurai

Sword Of The Samurai is like an expanded Lords Of The Rising Sun: more complex, more reliant on strategic skills and, in the end, more rewarding. It contains so many aspects - exploration, conquest, training, the acquisition of honour, marriage, appeasement - that it's bewildering to begin with, and very easy to snuff it.

It doesn't help that, without a hard disk, there's so much disk swapping and access time but, as the game reminds you, "the tranquil mind eschews impatience".

Graphically, it's poor: the CGA mode is probably better than EGA and VGA because it's more successful at what it does: all modes are blocky and poorly animated, however. Sonically, the game supports an AdLib sound board or a Roland MT-32 Midi board - neither of which my PC has, so I can't comment.

Samurai is well worth persevering with: it's just a shame that the graphics and presentation couldn't have matched the depth and subtlety of the gameplay.